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Chapter 14 - The Human Genome

The Human Genome Project (HGP) formally began in 1990 and was finished in 2003.   The goal was to discover the DNA sequences for all of the 20,000-22,000 genes that are found in human beings.   This knowledge is vital for research into genetic disorders and possible genetic solutions to these disorders.   Some of the work began in 1983 when scientists began producing DNA clone libraries of the different human chromosomes.  A few significant meetings were held and eventually, in 1986, pilot sequencing projects were begun at the Department of Energy.   This work helped to develop the technologies needed for the HGP.   Ari Patrinos (DOE) and Francis Collins (NIH) were the leaders of this project.

In 1999 the first chromosome was completely sequenced (chromosome 22 - one of the smallest autosomes).    In 2000, then President Clinton and HGP leaders announced that they had a "working draft" of the human genome.   The genome was declared sequenced in 2003, although work continued to refine the complete chromosome sequences.   By 2006 all of the sequences were identified with the individual chromosomes.

Labs all over the world were helping with this project.   The Human Genome Organization (HUGO) coordinated the work of many countries, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, European Union, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Netherlands, Russia, Sweden, United Kingdom, and the United States.
   In the private sector, Craig Venter founded Celera Genomics, where scientists used a controversial method called "shotgun sequencing."   He was frustrated with the slow progress of the DOE.

Ultimately the Department of Energy and Craig Ventner agreed together that the sequencing was complete - it was a tie!


This information is stored in online programs, such as Genbank, and is available to all scientists who are working to identify genetic causes of various disorders and to determine what products are being produced by all of the 20,000 genes of the human genome.
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